A Greek holiday table is not complete without the many delicious traditional pastries made with recipes passed down through the generations. In the Peloponnese, and especially in Kalamata, ‘diples’ are a staple of the dessert table at every Christmas feast. Though the following recipe is relatively simple, it may take a few tries to get the exact folded shape. The crispy, honey-sweetened pastry is always a treat. If preferred, other shapes can be rolled out, or the pastry can be made using a pizzelle mold, but the folded or rosette shape is the most popular.
4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, plus more for rolling out
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brandy
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups Greek honey
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
Canola oil for frying
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the brandy and sugar. Add the egg mixture to the flour and stir together. Knead on a lightly floured work surface until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes. Using about a quarter of the dough at a time, roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. With a pastry cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into strips 1 1/4 inches wide and about 9 inches long for the rose shape or wider for the traditional folded shape. Continue with the remaining dough.
To fry, fill a large deep pot with canola oil or preferred oil for frying to about 3 inches deep. Heat until the oil is about 375 degrees F. Place the strips into the heated oil and using two forks turn them so they form diples, or folds, like a rose. Fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Continue with the remaining dough until all are fried.
For the syrup, in a saucepan heat the honey and water up to a simmer, place the fried ‘diples’ in for a minute or two then remove to a serving platter and sprinkle with the finely chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Serve immediately. If preferred, allow them to cool completely and store at room temperature for a week, though they will not be as crispy as on the first day, they will still be a tasty dessert.
To make ‘diples’ in other shapes, use pizzelle irons. Dip the pizzelle iron mold into the batter and then place in the heated oil and fry until the cooked dough drops off the mold. Remove from the frying oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Wipe any excess oil from the mold with paper towels before dipping it into the batter again to ensure the cooked dough drops off properly when fried. Dip into honey syrup as above and top with walnuts and cinnamon. Serve immediately.